A Python script for grading partial credit multiple choice: Part 2—Using the script

So, in the last post, I introduced a little Python script that I use to process the output of Scantron forms. So how do you go about actually using it?


The script is written in Python. I decided to pick it up a few years ago as a way to get back into simple computer programming and haven’t looked back. I use it a lot for little projects like this one and for some simple applications in my group’s publications (like nonlinear curve fitting). Unfortunately, Python’s not a compiled language so you’ll have to have it installed in order to use the script, which is written in Python 3, not Python 2.[1. Right now a slow transition is taking place from Python 2 to 3. There’s still a lot done in 2, but I chose to learn 3 because my need for external packages is limited. Also, Python 3 is the scripting language for Blender, which will be the subject of many future posts.]

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A Python script for grading partial credit multiple choice: Part 1

In an ideal world, I think we’d all prefer faculty-graded, free-response style exams. Unfortunately, that’s just not really realistic for a chemistry professor teaching large service classes.[1. The largest classes I’ve taught have up to about 200 students.] While we do use online homework for the classes I teach, we’re not really set up to use these sorts of systems as a primary assessment tool. That leaves, of course, machine-graded, multiple choice (MC) as the go-to format for most (but not all) of my exam questions.

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So I started this blog…

I even made this nifty logo:


So what’s it about? Basically, it will be about one of my hobbies: applying computers to my life as a chemistry academic. I freely admit that calling this a hobby is lame even by nerd standards.

It’s probably easiest to explain the plan by explaining what the blog isn’t. It’s not a technology blog. There are millions of excellent tech blogs/sites out there and no one needs my uninformed opinions. Likewise, it’s not a chemistry blog. There are many excellent chemistry blogs. The interweb could probably use more, but I spend enough time writing chemistry as part of my official professional life. Finally, this isn’t really a personal blog about me. Not sure there’d be much of an audience and besides, I’d probably just use it for passive-aggressive rants about parking at work.

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